Six Ole Miss transfers are petitioning the NCAA for immediate eligibility on the grounds that they were misled about imminent school penalties by former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze during their recruitment.
Ole Miss is serving a two-year bowl ban due to violations committed by Freeze, who assured recruits their ability to compete for national championships wouldn't be hindered by the sanctions.
"The grounds for the waiver applications are based on an NCAA rule that allows transferring players to become immediately eligible if they transferred because of 'egregious behavior' by a staff member at their former school," said attorney Thomas Mars, who's assisting all six players in their appeals to the NCAA, according to Mark Schlabach of ESPN. "That term isn't defined, and there's never been a case like this, so the NCAA will be writing on a clean slate in deciding whether the conduct of certain Ole Miss officials constitutes 'egregious behavior.'"
Screenshots of text messages and direct messages on Twitter obtained by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports support the players' arguments that they were misled by Freeze about the NCAA case.
Among the players arguing for immediate eligibility is quarterback Shea Patterson, who transferred to Michigan in December. The other five are safety Deontay Anderson (Houston), linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), receiver Tre Nixon (Central Florida), and receiver Van Jefferson (Florida).
"The schools submitting the waiver requests to the NCAA on behalf of these players will assert that the student-athletes were all the victims of 'egregious behavior' by certain senior officials in the Ole Miss athletics department," Mars noted. "More specifically, they will argue that these student-athletes were recruited under deliberately false pretenses through a sophisticated misinformation campaign organized and carried out for one purpose: to mislead the 2016 recruits and their parents about the official allegations the NCAA had made just 10 days before National Signing Day."